coffee mug on diary full of tasks

Is lockdown fuelling toxic productivity?

Now that we are starting to see the relaxation of lockdown measures, you might be reflecting on what you’ve achieved during this period.

Of course it’s wonderful when we can tick things off our endless to-do lists, but just because you haven’t managed to tick off as many things as hoped, this does not necessarily spell failure. Often, it’s easy to tip the balance between being productive and being productive in a toxic way. 

What is toxic productivity?

Toxic productivity refers to the general obsession in radically improving oneself within unrealistic boundaries. This stems from the societal norm to be constantly available online and to appear a certain way to our friends, family and employers.

The amount of content available at our fingertips now on social media is staggering, so frankly it’s no surprise that our mindsets are warped by the notion that we always have to be better. As a result of the situation we find ourselves, guilt starts to creep in with how we can utilise our time better, which is damaging if channelled ineffectively.

Don’t you know that you’re toxic?

Yes, even Britney understands. Lyrics aside, sometimes it’s hard to even know or accept that your behaviours are harmful to you. There are some factors to consider when trying to understand if your productivity has become detrimental:

  1. General wellbeing and relationships
    Is your productivity damaging to the point where your own health or relationships with your family and friends are at risk?

    A good sign of this is when you neglect basic human requirements such as food or sleep, or struggle to make time for your loved ones. This is dangerous, particularly to the point where it almost feels routine.

  2. Nothing is ever enough
    Restlessness is often a prominent symptom. This refers to that feeling of guilt when you’re not working or doing something you consider to be productive. You may find it difficult to relax and take breaks as you constantly strive to improve your current state of mind.

Easy, tiger

It’s not all misery. The measures we can take to combat toxic behaviours on a daily basis are simpler than you think.

For example:

  1. Health should always come first
    Listen to your body. Particularly with many people working from home, we might be more tempted to push our limits and achieve as much as we would in the office.

    Put bluntly, we are trying to work in a crisis. Don’t let others increase pressure on you in an already bleak situation!

  2. Define your routine
    With routine comes purpose. It’s incredible what can be achieved when clear boundaries are defined throughout the day.

    For instance, create a work schedule that sets aside some time for that yoga session or family quiz, and stick to it. Remember, moderation and consistency are key.

Go at your own pace

The current climate has heightened our desire to radically improve ourselves. As a result, we are continuously questioning our own self worth, with social media having a lot to answer for. With the right balance of meaningful activity and self care, we can attain our personal goals in a healthier manner.

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